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2020 Ford Explorer Platinum: First Drive

Stealth Wealth For The New Decade

Let’s get it out of the way. The 10-inch vertically oriented touchscreen in the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum not only looks the business, but is arguably is more user-friendly than the rest of the field. The logic was simple: take the layout of any given glowing rectangle that everybody uses everyday, and integrate it safely onto the dashboard of a vehicle. The aesthetic is quite pleasing to the eye, resembling a highly modern home studio system, flanked by a pair of HVAC vents that mimic speakers. It’s a centerpiece that delivers a hip and cozy theme throughout.

The irony here is of course that nobody should be using a mobile device while operating a vehicle, yet touchscreens that mimic them are kosher. Thankfully, steering wheel controls solve most of our concerns. The interior otherwise is a pleasant place to be. The seats are superlative, and the second row isn’t a penalty box, either. In fact, there’s more space inside the Explorer than ever before, and accommodate mobile devices better than pretty much anything else on the market. Phones now have their own slots and cubbies. Even the second row cup holders are squared instead of rounded to fit both juice boxes, and/or a smartphone. And pretty much every occupant has a designated USB port.

It’s quiet – the quietest Explorer ever, actually. And it has competent, and confident levels of power.

On tap is 365 horsepower from Ford’s 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine sending power to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission, configured with a rotary dial on the center console. If you want more, there’s the 400 hp Ford Explorer ST.

There isn’t a gizmo or do-dad we can think of that the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum doesn’t possess. Wifi? Check. 360-degree camera? Yes. Lane departure warning? Standard on the base model, in fact. Second-row captain’s chairs that slide fore-aft and recline. There’s even this new thing called “evasive steering assist” that, essentially, helps drivers evade an obstacle on the road more effectively. There’s also various driving modes for towing, fuel economy, performance, and even off-roading. They each come with their own high-resolution sequence that is shown on the digital instrument cluster.

All of this extra content, improved accommodations, heightened horsepower, and smoother ride of course does come at a sturdy premium: $59,345, with room to grow. That’s Range Rover Velar money. Granted, the two vehicles don’t stack up evenly against each other, but the British boulevardier comes with waves more curb appeal.

But here’s the thing, you’re not getting ripped off in the 2020 Ford Explorer. What’s actually happening is that the vehicle is entering a more premium brand space with the MSRP. Yet those experienced enough with luxury marques know that buying the base level is actually a silent cry for help, and that their various packages and equipment offerings will cause that price to quickly skyrocket to levels of instability to the point where the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the 2000’s would blush.

So. Who, then, is the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum for? As we eluded in the subheading – it’s the stealth wealth individual. It’s the type of person that buys an $85,000 Toyota Land Cruiser because they know what it is, and don’t really care if you do. They know that within that Ford-badged sheetmetal is a private airline with seating for seven, and they’re not trying to let the community know about it.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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